COVID-19 was a ‘rumbling tornado waiting to happen’ to nursing home residents who deserve care and respect

The Editor:

In response to Nation Valley News post re:  MPP Jim McDonell announcement “Province adds more than 2,000 acute care and critical care beds to prepare for Covid-19 outbreak.”

The addition of acute and critical care beds is all fine and dandy, but since half of all deaths are occurring in long-term care facilities, we, as family members of those in long-term care, need to have more information. Due to lobbying from Mike Harris, and others in the powerful for-profit retirement/nursing home industry, there is no longer regular inspections of nursing homes.

I personally had to make a complaint to the Compliance Officer at the Ministry of Long Term Care to have an issue addressed because of my elderly parent. Of course, with all the “political speak” the nursing home was not considered at fault in a situation, which involved hygiene, care, and neglect. Your government also states that staff has to work in one facility only. As you are well aware, many long term care facilities do not want full time workers, because that way they are forced to pay benefits. This in effect forces people who need to make a living wage to work in more than one facility.

When I was at my mother’s yearly care conference in November, at a reputable nursing home, run by the County of Renfrew, I asked about the PSW to resident ratio, I asked about how many minutes my mother is given for morning care. The answer was given very reluctantly. As a former RN who worked for 10 years in a nursing home, I know that this is about eight minutes. How in God’s green earth can you get a person out of bed, and do care in eight minutes? This means that the person is taken out of bed, plopped on the toilet, and while she is on toilet, there is a quick wash of face and bottom, teeth are popped in, the resident’s night clothing is removed and she is being dressed while sitting on the toilet, her socks, underwear, pants and shoes are put on, then she is stood up and everything pulled up as quick as possible, hair quickly brushed. And that only happens if there is a “good” PSW appointed to her care.

Eight minutes! How shameful is this? And at night there may be a ratio of one PSW to 35 patients. The for-profit industry sees our elderly as a “money maker,” and the governments, both past and present, have allowed the lobbyists to cut the inspections, because the goal of the large companies, such as Chartwell, is profit, profit, profit. All the happy residents you see on television is all “smoke and mirrors” for what is really going on in nursing homes … because most of those there are physically and mentally very compromised. This situation with our elderly has been going on for decades!

This was like a rumbling tornado waiting to happen. And still, despite the fact that the COVID-19 has been raging through our residential and nursing home facilities for weeks, I have not received a phone call from my mother’s nursing home as yet to tell me how she is doing, and it is virtually impossible to get anyone to answer the phone. This situation should also make the construction of a new Dundas Manor in Winchester a top priority. Many of these people languish in four-bed wardrooms, and they are still accepting new residents despite the crisis*.

How is it possible that we allow our elderly to have four residents to a room, which may be 25 feet by 25 feet?  Are we just “warehousing” them until they die? We must remember that they are valuable citizens, although now compromised, who are entitled to care and respect.

Wilhelmina Hoftyzer

South Dundas

*Editor’s note: A provincial directive issued this week prevents nursing homes from taking in new residents.

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